Mushrooms are more nutritious than most people realize and this article on mushroom nutrition details why. (If you eat a vegetarian, vegan, or paleo diet, take notice!)
When most people imagine a nutritious diet, they think plenty of leafy greens and brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. What about mushrooms? Despite their often less-exciting colors and technically not being vegetables, our fungal friends are actually a powerhouse of nutrition. They’re low in calories, sodium, and cholesterol while being high in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you are interested in knowing more about mushroom nutrition, read on to find information pertaining to protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more.
General Mushroom Nutrition
Protein: Yes, protein! Popular species of edible mushrooms normally contain 19-35% protein. Compare that to the general protein content of the following foods:
- Rice: 7.3%
- Wheat: 13.2%
- Soybean: 39.1%
- Milk: 25.2%
Amino acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are nine amino acids essential to humans because our bodies cannot make them. While animal-based foods generally contain all the necessary amino acids, plant-based proteins are usually low in one or more kind. Mushrooms, however, contain all nine types of essential amino acids.
Vitamins: Edible mushrooms are a fantastic source of several vitamins, especially B vitamins. The B vitamins found in mushrooms help your body break down carbohydrates and fats and play an important role in the nervous system. Need more vitamins in your life? Vitamins are part of the mushroom nutrition worth knowing. Eating one cup of mushrooms can provide you with the following amounts of vitamins, depending on the species:
- 7% daily intake of B1
- 30-35% daily intake of B2
- 22-25% daily intake of B3
- 23% daily intake of B6
Most people are surprised to find that mushrooms are also a great source for vitamin D. Just like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. When it comes to getting this essential vitamin, mushrooms are the only source of produce that can help. The key here is that they have to be exposed to sunlight. Check out our sun-dried mushrooms to help boost your vitamin D intake. They can be added to soups, risottos and vegetable dishes, or made into a delicious tea.
Minerals & Antioxidants: We could not talk about mushroom nutrition and forget to mention minerals and antioxidants found in mushrooms. Mushrooms contain many essential minerals, including iron, phosphor, copper, potassium and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against heart disease and some cancers. Mushrooms are one of the richest natural sources of selenium, not to mention one of the only items you’ll find in the produce aisle that has it. One single portion of mushrooms can provide a quarter of the daily needs of selenium.
Shiitake Mushroom Nutrition
Shiitake mushrooms contain eritadenine, a compound linked to helping the body remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. In one study, researchers found that adding 90 grams (about three ounces) of fresh shiitake to the diet every day lowered cholesterol by 12% in one week. In addition, shiitake have antiviral and immunity-boosting properties.
Reishi Mushroom Nutrition
Reishi has been utilized for over 2000 years in Japan and China to promote healthy respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and cardiovascular systems. These mushrooms are strongly anti-inflammatory and tied to better immune function and mental clarity. Many current studies also show that reishi mushrooms can prevent tumor growth and reduce the metastasis of cancerous cells. Check out our reishi mushroom extract if you are interested in adding reishi into your diet.
Chaga Mushroom Nutrition
Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries as a digestive aid, for liver and heart health, for internal cleansing, and to support immune function. Research also shows that chaga activates immune cells responsible for combating cancer initiation. If you’re interested in boosting your immune system, take a look at our chaga mushroom extract.
Mushroom nutrition and the presence of umami flavor
Here is an excerpt from the study Mushrooms—Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique, which discusses both the umami flavor and some of the nutritional constituents associated:
“Mushrooms have many flavor and nutrient characteristics that make them an ideal addition to many dishes. Their texture and umami or savory flavor properties make them a suitable substitute for meat. Mushrooms contribute moisture that improves the mouth feel and overall sensory appeal of many dishes, whereas their low energy density (about 92% water) can reduce the energy density of the final dish when taking the place of other higher-energy-dense ingredients.”
The study continues with a deeper look at the umami flavor and mushroom nutrition:
“The use of other umami-rich ingredients, such as tomatoes, that have a synergistic effect with the umami compounds in mushrooms further adds to the flavor and consumer appeal. The interactions of the umami compounds on taste buds create longer-lasting taste sensations compared with the effects of the compound on their own. Traditional global cuisines have combined multiple umami-rich ingredients for millennia to create iconic dishes. For example, in Chinese cuisine, fresh mushrooms that contain naturally occurring glutamate often are combined with dried, rehydrated mushrooms that contain naturally occurring guanylate. Mushrooms and other vegetables rich in umami also have the benefit of being low in sodium and rich in potassium”
Now it’s time to take advantage of all this mushroom nutrition knowledge! Whether you add fresh oysters to your omelette in the morning, a dropper of reishi extract to your afternoon tea, or dried shiitake to your soup in the evening, we hope you continue to enjoy all the exciting benefits mushrooms have to offer.